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The Best ACFW Conference Ever

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You’ll be seeing that phrase, the title of this post, over and over and over during the next seven to ten days as the 629 people who attended the 9th annual ACFW National Conference get home, decompress, debrief, and begin to determine exactly what happened from 3 p.m. Friday September 17 through 9 a.m. Monday September 20, 2010.

It’s not hyperbole for me when I say it was my best conference ever. Here’s why:

  • Fantastic traveling companions. Fellow MTCW members Kathy Harris (writing as Kate Shiloh) and Patrick Carr rode up with me. We never lacked for conversation the entire five hour drive.
  • I was so constantly engaged with other people that I didn’t even think about pulling out my camera to take pictures.
  • I quickly discovered a new facet of God’s calling on my life and the reason why God made my attendance at the conference so easy: connecting the right people in the right place at the right time. And until I got there, I didn’t even realize that’s why I was there. And even though I didn’t go into the socializing times with an agenda, there were so many networking opportunities laid before me that could be beneficial for my friends and mentees* that I couldn’t not take steps toward making those connections happen.
      *Saturday night, when talking to agent Steve Laube about my mentees it came out as minions—and I actually rubbed my hands together when I said it. So apparently I don’t have mentees, I have minions. No wonder Jeff Gerke has been after me about writing speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy) for his Marcher Lord Press!

  • Reconnecting with longtime friends—I think more than anything that’s what killed me about not being able to attend last year’s conference, knowing I wouldn’t get to see and hug and talk face-to-face with people who’ve become part of my life over the last seven or eight years. So that was at the top of my “things to do at conference list.”
  • Fantastic meetings—with my agent Chip MacGregor (I’m so excited about what we’re doing to move my career forward), with my publicist for Ransome’s Crossing, Jeane Wynn, with my editors, Rebecca Germany and Kim Moore, along with all of the other scheduled and divine appointments I had during the course of this very long, very fast weekend.
  • I met author Bonnie Calhoun, also known for founding both the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She makes me laugh:
  • I taught this year, for the first time. And I taught two classes! Both went better than I expected—but being used to having 2+ hours for my MTCW workshops every month, those one-hour blocks of time went by way too fast.
  • I loved connecting with the other authors who were there from Harvest House at our dinner on Saturday night. I feel like I know so much about them through their books, but it’s so different to actually sit down and talk to them.
  • I picked up Courting Morrow Little and The Frontiersman’s Daughter in the bookstore and got Laura Frantz to sign them for me!
  • I had enough flexibility in my schedule that I was able to have some impromptu one-on-one mentoring time with all of my “minions” along with others who will hopefully join that fold now.
  • I averaged about five hours of sleep each night. I was up early each morning so I wouldn’t miss any opportunities at breakfasts and I stayed up late fellowshipping and and socializing and not wanting to miss a single thing.

I could go on for thousands and thousands of words, but I’ll spare you. So I’ll close with my favorite thing about the 2010 ACFW National Conference:

      Every time I ran into one of my mentees, members of MTCW, or friends, it was a “jumping up and down in excitement” moment—their dream editor/agent had asked for a submission, they’d had a great meeting with the published author critiquing their work, they wanted to share a nugget of something they’d learned that was that one last key to revolutionizing their writing and taking it to the next level, they’d had an epiphany about their voice, their brand, the direction of their writing career, and so on. They’d found barriers removed, nerves settled, doors opened, and God paving the way before them in ways they’d never imagined. That’s what made this my best conference ever.

  1. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 8:16 am

    I’m so happy things went so well for you and the other “minions”! ๐Ÿ™‚ From what you’ve shared and the little comments I’ve seen on Facebook so far it seems like God really showed up in big ways for everyone who attended the conference. It’s great to see and I’m excited to come to the meeting Saturday to hear the stories from those who attended.


  2. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 8:45 am

    Oh my….I had chills as I read this, Kaye!! (the GOOD kind of chills, LOL). What a wonderful experience you had at the conference, and it definitely sounds like God had you there for specific purposes. Thanks so much for sharing this—I had a mental image as I read your experiences. (Hmmmm…perhaps you can share sometime what it’s like to have “minions” teehee…) ~ I’ve been able to attend the past 2 conferences (Denver and MN) and they were absolutely awesome—even more wonderful than I’d expected. Last year I met 2 authors (I hadn’t met before that first evening at dinner) who took me to the prayer room and prayed over me (that my severe back problems wouldn’t cause too much pain during that weekend). Praise the Lord—I was able to manage fine throughout that entire conference! ~ This year it saddened me to not be able to attend, but I’m still recuperating from 4 (major) spinal surgeries I had in late June….but I love reading about others’ experiences at ACFW, so THANK YOU for sharing this! Blessings, Patti Jo ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 9:26 am

    Minions… Oh boy. ๐Ÿ™‚ A total blast. It was so much fun that you got excited WITH us!


  4. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 10:34 am

    It WAS a weekend of divine appointments, wasn’t it? When you choose your top 4 agents and editors, not really knowing about ANY of them, and then choose your late night chat sessions, not knowing if it’s the right thing, it’s pretty overwhelming when ALL of it meshes into successful meetings and just the information you need to make you know that God IS in control. Thanks for your encouraging presence, and for taking pity on a first-timer at lunch – 0r was it dinner? I’m still a little fuzzy on those details… ๐Ÿ™‚ I just remember meeting Patrick, and the huge porkchop.

    Minions….I can handle that.


  5. Kim Payne permalink
    Tuesday, September 21, 2010 11:05 am

    And as I had the pleasure of attending both of your classes, I just have to say they were wonderful. Not only did I learn, I was entertained. You can’t beat that combination with a stick.


  6. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 12:43 pm

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful time! I’m planning to go next year. It will be my first time. I can’t wait to find out who the keynote will be.


  7. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 1:40 pm

    Meeting you was one of THE highlights for me! You and your books are so dear to me. I was so touched that you wanted mine. I heard so many wonderful comments about you teaching while there. Next time I want to be in your workshop!! Bless you this week as you get back into the “zone”. I’ve heard it’s a record heat day there for you today. Talk soon!


  8. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 3:29 pm

    Kaye, I owe you many thanks for helping me. I have learned so much from you!


  9. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 3:33 pm

    Glad you had a wonderful time. I’m turning green…


  10. Meredith permalink
    Tuesday, September 21, 2010 7:29 pm

    My green eyes are greener:D Maybe next year. I am socking away some money in anticipation!


  11. Patrick permalink
    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 1:22 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for taking me under your wing, Kaye. The ride up and back, advice and ecouragement, telling me to breathe so I didn’t pass out at the Zondervan table, introducing me to Jeff Gerke, and on and on.

    I struggled for years to make headway with my writing. Then you came and showed a selflessness on my behalf that was humbling.



    • Wednesday, September 22, 2010 1:33 pm

      But just THINK what a great story it would have been if you HAD passed out at the Zondervan table! ๐Ÿ˜€ Just kidding. It was great to meet you, Patrick! I think both of us had the “deer in the headlights” look down to an art by the end of the first day, don’t you? Conferences are great, but people who will stand by you are the greatest!


  12. Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:26 pm

    Seriously, Kaye.
    I did not get one picture of the two of us. What happened to my brain?!? I’m going to have to steal a copy from Kim


  13. Patrick permalink
    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 5:18 pm

    Ha! Agreed. It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m still tired. I’m going to push through it tonight to try and put another coat of polish on my stuff before I send it out.



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